Prospects for Nuclear Energy Policy in Australia

Abstract

During the May 2019 national election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied his Liberal-National Party (LNP) government had any intention to pursue nuclear power for Australia. An official ban on nuclear power remains in place, but following the election, a parliamentary inquiry into nuclear energy was announced, to be delivered by the end of 2019. This announcement restarted a long-running debate on nuclear policy in Australia. Under the Liberal-Country Party government in the 1950s, Australia hosted the UK’s atomic weapons testing, and considered developing Australia’s own nuclear weapons arsenal. However, after the election of a Labor Party government in 1972, Australia signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and has relied on the extended deterrence protection of its US ally ever since. Australia has nevertheless been a major exporter of uranium, and has maintained a small research reactor. In 2006, the LNP government of John Howard commissioned a report into nuclear power, which found it was uneconomic, given Australia’s preponderance of coal-fired energy. A Royal Commission held by the South Australian state government in 2016 found nuclear power would still be uneconomic, compared to renewable energy sources. Nuclear power advocates argue that small modular reactors (SMRs) could deliver baseload energy for Australia, while reducing carbon emissions. The opposition Labor Party remains opposed to nuclear power though, particularly over where to site power plants, and disposal of nuclear waste. Any future Australian nuclear power industry is therefore a very long-term prospect, as renewable energy becomes more widespread, efficient, and affordable.



Author Information
Craig Mark, Kyoritsu Women's University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: IICSEEHawaii2020
Stream: Clean and Affordable Energy

This paper is part of the IICSEEHawaii2020 Conference Proceedings (View)
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